Philosophy 187


Edward N. Zalta, Philosophy Department
Offices: Cordura 226 (CSLI) and 91B (Philosophy)
Phone: 723-0345 (Cordura), 723-0985 (91B)
Electronic Mail: zalta@csli
Mailboxes: Ventura Hall and Building 90 Lounge
Office Hours: At Bldg 90: W 2-3; At Cordura: by appointment

Class Meetings:

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 1:15 P.M., 200-30

Course Description:

This course covers many of the traditional topics in metaphysics: the ontological proof for the existence of God, the problem of universals, the nature of the world (facts, events, states of affairs and situations), the problem of fiction, the nature of possibilities and possible worlds, and the analysis of causality and counterfactuals. The basic question addressed in the course is, other than physical entities and physical principles, what other kinds of entities and principles must we appeal to in order to accurately describe the world?

Required Texts:

Universals: An Opinionated Introduction, David Armstrong (bookstore)
An Essay on Facts, Kenneth Olson (bookstore)

On the Plurality of Worlds, David Lewis
Permission has been granted for us to xerox this out-of-stock book.
A variety of xeroxed articles (to be announced)

Course Requirements:

This is a four unit course. Besides doing the reading and coming to class, you will be required to:

  1. Come to class on Friday's prepared for a discussion. Your preparedness will be tested, on occasion, by unannounced short answer questions that you will be assigned to write on for about 10 minutes. These will be worth 20% of your grade. Depending on the class size, we may also have on Fridays short, in-class presentations by groups of students on selected topics.
  2. Turn in two short papers, each three to five pages long. These will be on topics assigned by the professor. Each short paper will be worth 20% of your grade.
  3. Turn in one longer paper (near the end of the quarter), around six to nine pages. For the longer paper, you will have a choice of topics. This paper will be worth 35%of your grade.
The remaining 5% of your grade is reserved as discretionary, to be awarded on the basis of participation and improvement. It should be emphasized that participation and improvement will be especially important in borderline cases. There will be no final.


NOTE: The following course schedule is tentative and subject to change. Such changes, if any, will be announced in class. The reading assignments should serve two purposes: to help you pace yourself and to indicate the date by which the assignment should be read. However, if you can do so, you might prefer reading ahead, for this will better prepare you for the lectures. We may not lecture on all of the readings, though you are expected to read them all.


12,17 ~- ~The Ontological Argument
read: `On the Logic of the Ontological Argument', by Oppenheimer and Zalta (xerox), and `The Logical Structure of Anselm's Arguments,' by R. M. Adams (in The Philosophical Review LXXX (1971): 28-54)
19,22,24,26 ~- ~The Problem of Universals
read: ``The Problem of Universals,'' by Michael Loux (xerox); and David Armstrong's book; also, go to Tanner and read the article on ``Universals'' in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy
29,31 ~- ~Are There Facts?
read: Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Kenneth Olson's book


2,5 ~- ~Facts, States of Affairs, and Situations
7,9,12,14, ~- ~The Problem of Fiction
read: to be announced
16,21,23,26 ~- ~Possibilities and Possible Worlds
read: selected portions of David Lewis' book
28 ~- ~Causality and Counterfactuals
read: to be announced


2 ~- ~Causality and Counterfactuals
5,7,9 ~- ~A Systematic Approach offered by the Prof
12,14,16 ~- ~Dead Week


Short Paper #1: January 29
Short Paper #2: February 16
Long Paper: March 9


1. No late papers will be accepted, nor incompletes given, unless special permission is obtained from the professor in advance. Permission to turn in a late paper is given at the price of a grade penalty (one-half grade for each day it is late), unless there is a genuine emergency or the circumstances are exceptional in some other way. Late papers received without advance permission will be penalized one full grade for each day it is late.

2. Reevaluations: Students may request a reevaluation of a paper if they feel that it has been incorrectly graded. The work must be resubmitted to the professor within one week of the date the paper was graded and returned.

Copyright © 1994, by Edward N. Zalta. All rights reserved.